Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Old Grey Fox of the Yard Who Broke East End Gangs

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Old Grey Fox of the Yard Who Broke East End Gangs

Article excerpt

When rival groups tried to muscle in on the Krays' territory, Commander Bert Wickstead took them on and won

ONE of Scotland Yard's wiliest detectives, who cracked the East End gangs of the 1970s, has died.

Known as the Old Grey Fox and The Gangbuster, Commander Bert Wickstead made his name as head of the Yard's Serious Crime Squad and, if you were a criminal, established a fearsome reputation.

He took on the gangs in the East End who were fighting for control of territory in the aftermath of the Krays and the Richardsons, and successfully broke the power of groups such as the Tibbs gang and the Dixon brothers.

Mr Wickstead was born in Plaistow in 1923, the son of a railway foreman. He grew up a talented footballer and tried to pursue a career with West Ham before injury and the war intervened.

He joined up and served with the SAS in Burma and India. After demobilisation he joined the Metropolitan Police and first served in Hampstead.

His superiors spotted the young constable's talent and he rapidly climbed the career ladder. As a young detective inspector at Stoke Newington he investigated 19 murders in two years, solving them all.

He also helped solve the murder, at the Pen Club in the East End in 1960, of Selwyn Cooney, a frontman for the self-styled King of the Underworld, Billy Hill.

Mr Wickstead investigated a series of 13 arson attacks on London synagogues in 1965 and exposed a nest of British fascists who were incited by Fran?oise Jordan, the niece of Christian Dior and the wife of Colin Jordan, the leader of the British National Socialist Party. Mr Wickstead later described Jordan as "the most fanatically dangerous woman" he had ever met.

He went on to set up the Serious Crime Squad - a forerunner to the Yard's specialist units tackling organised crime - with the intention of ensuring that gangs such as the Krays and the Richardsons could never again gain a stranglehold. …

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